Simply Banana Bread

banana bread

Bananas are most likely to be eaten in our house within the first couple days after bringing them home from the market. If afew of them get ignored long enough, they get turned into banana bread. Maybe that’s deliberate in-action on the part of the family, but it’s a house favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2c flour (We use 1 1/4c white and 1 1/4c whole wheat but you can decide for yourself)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1c shortening
  • 2c sugar
  • 2c over-ripe mashed bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tbsp imitation rum

Directions:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl beat together the shortening, sugar, mashed bananas, and eggs. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix, just combined.
  4. Finally add the imitation(or real) rum or even chopped walnuts if you like your bread a little nutty.
  5. Coat 2 8×4 loaf pans with shortening and then lightly flour to reduce sticking.
  6. Divide the batter into the loaf pans and then bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes, until tooth pick tests clean.
  7. Let sit to cool before removing from the pan.
  8. Enjoy.

Note: Most sweet bread recipes are very similar. The feature flavor(s) is what gives the bread it’s distinct character.

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Easy & Hearty Ham Salad

ham

We love a good ham. During the holidays, leftover ham can be used in SO MANY WAY. Here’s an easy, but hearty, recipe for ham salad that can either be served in a sandwich or as a cracker spread. It has a lot of texture and a little kick for depth of character.

Ingredients:

  • 2c ham(copped up small or shredded in a food processor)
  • 1c diced celery
  • 1/4c onion(purple is our favorite)
  • 1tsp mustard(Bavarian style is sturdy but Dijon is good too)
  • 1tsp chili powder
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1/4 c hot or hot-sweet pickled relish
  • 3/4c salad dressing(only use 1/2 if you like it less creamy)

 

Directions:

  1. Dice the egg and then mix everything together. Poof! You’re in business.

Note: We like things spicier in this house so feel free to adjust the seasoning to your tastes. We’re just opening your eyes to the possibilities.

 

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Cinnamon Pull-Aparts

pull-aparts

Some people call this monkey bread, but to me it has always been known as cinnamon pull-aparts. It is basically a cinnamon roll chunked up for easy grabbing by little sticky fingers for breakfast or as a snack. Hot and fresh is the best! Since it takes a little while to prepare because of all steps plan ahead. This is a great recipe to do with kids if they like getting a little messy.

 

Ingredients:

  • 3c milk
  • 1/2c shortening
  • 2 pouches yeast if pre-portioned or 4 1/2tsp yeast if bulk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2c sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 6c flour
  • 1 stick of butter (At least!)
  • cinnamon/sugar mix
  • must have an ANGEL FOOD CAKE PAN

 

Directions:

  1. Put yeast into 1/4c warm water, stir a little bit, and then set it aside.
  2. Bring milk to a scalding hot temperature and then melt the shortening in it. Allow it to cool.
  3. Once cooled, add eggs, sugar, salt, and yeast into the milk-shortening and mix evenly.
  4. Add flour and mix thoroughly to make a stiff dough.
  5. Melt the butter in a bowl and mix up an ample amount of cinnamon-sugar to your tastes.(You don’t want to run out of either during this part of the process.
  6. Here’s the fun part for kids. Take small pieces of dough from the bowl, dip in the butter, and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar to coat.
  7. Evenly place the bits of coated dough in lightly greased angel food cake pan.(This recipe produces 2 pans worth)
  8. This is the hardest part! Let it sit to rise. Time varies for this step but the longer the better.(25 to 30 minutes minimum)
  9. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes
  10. When done baking cool a little and then use a rubber scraper to loosen the edges before flipping onto a plate for serving.

Note: This recipe can easily be halved.

 

 

 

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Comfort Food: Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

There is something special about zucchini bread in our household. The kids regularly ask to make it when it’s their time to bake with daddy. Warm, soft, and sweet. Add a little butter and it is a great go-to breakfast sweet bread. People often ask for the recipe. Well…here it is.

Ingredient:

  • 3c flour (I use 50% white, 50% whole wheat)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1c oil
  • 2 1/4c sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2c grated zucchini

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Grease/spray and flour 2 8×4 loaf pans.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients(flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon) together in a bowl and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl beat together the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  5. Combine the wet and dry together and mix well. (The batter will be stiffer at this point.)
  6. Add the zucchini to the batter and mix well.(You will noticed with the addition of the zucchini the batter will thin out nicely.)
  7. Split the batter between the two plans evenly and back for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean at the center.
  8. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes or so.
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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Not long ago, I was going through the recipe box trying to ferret out the recipes that I’ve never used or ever would care to. Among them was this fun little recipe. If you have leftover pumpkin in the freezer all pureed up or a can sitting around, this makes a great snack or breakfast item for the family.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2c sugar
  • 16oz pumpkin puree(or 1 can if store bought)
  • 1 1/2c oil
  • 3c flour(I use 2c white and 1c whole wheat)
  • 2tsp baking soda
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2c semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients minus the chips.
  3. Add the dry to the wed mixture and blend well.
  4. Fold the chips into the batter.
  5. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.
  6. Bake at 400° for 18 to 20 minutes. This makes 24-28 standard sized muffins.

 

 

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Mac and Cheese: The Next Level

mac n chedda

By simply using the words “comfort foods”, you have got yourself a whole conversation when in a group of friends. It’s meaning is as wide and as varied as we are.

One common comfort foods may be pasta. That old familiar “blue box” macaroni and cheese may have been one of the first things you were allowed to cook by yourself. Even the most poor college student could rummage through the couch to find enough to afford a meal to make it through one more cram session. As adults with children of our own we may even still reach for our powered packet friend from time to time. But mac and cheese doesn’t have to be a last resort and we can even ditch the blue box, at least for the moment.

Once the pasta is boiled and drained the real corner stone of any great cheese sauce it the roux. Roux is not just for the great kitchen chefs behind sparkling sliver doors. It’s for you too, I promise.

While it’s binding abilities may seem a bit mystifying it’s really not magic. If you can understand a one to one ratio you’ve got it! When making a roux you need equal parts of fat to dry. The trick is equal parts by weight not by volume(Thanks, dad!). So that means if you are using four tablespoons of butter you need to whisk in four tablespoons of flour. Keep stirring while it’s cooking. The cook time depends on your own preferences. However, the darker the roux the less thickening ability it will possess. Once it’s to your liking, add your cold cream, milk, or the liquid of your preference and… Bingo bang-go! You have a great base for your cheese sauce.

Now comes the fun part. The cheese! The tried and true cheese of choice is of coarse cheddar. If you are at my house, the sharper the better. For those of you who like a kick, pepper jack is always tasty too. Gouda and blue cheese can add depth and dimension for those with a more distinguished palette. Mix and match, pick and choose, with the cheese the world is your oyster.

mararoni and cheese

Steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach can all be used as stir in options. Although, steaming them first and removing as much water as you can is helpful. Adding extra liquid may thin out your dish. Finishing touches can be anything from simply adding additional cheese on top, some precooked bacon, ham, chicken, or even pork chops. Once finished, you have a one-pot meal that the entire family can enjoy.

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